This monument was built A.D. 1883. By grateful dwellers in the Mohawk Valley. Under direction of the Oneida Historical Society, Aided by the National Government and the State of New York.
SIGNAGE AT THE SITE:
Parched and exhausted from the heat and humidity on their march to Fort Stanwix, some of General Herkimer’s men broke ranks and ran to this creek for water. Although Sir John Johnson had told his Indian allies not to attack until all of Herkimer’s men had entered the ravine, they could not resist this opportunity.
As the militiamen laid down their muskets and placed their heads to the water, the Indians attacked. Tradition states that an hour into the battle, this creek ran red with blood. Thus, the battle of Oriskany has also been called “the battle of bloody creek.”
“I Will Face The Enemy”
Gen. Nicholas Herkimer, wounded early in the battle, was carried to a safer spot beneath a beech tree now marked by a stone monument. Although urged by his militiamen to retire from danger, he replied: “I will face the enemy!”
Direct the battle while leaning against his saddle and smoking his old black pipe, Herkimer noticed that the Indians were watching white puffs of smoke from the militiamen’s muskets. The Indians knew that in the few seconds it would take to reload, they could rush in to attack with their tomahawks.
After a violent thunderstorm caused a hone-hour lull in the battle, Herkimer had his men regroup on higher ground. This time they would fight by twos, so that while one reloaded the other fired. This strategy quickly discouraged the Indians, who soon retreated from the battlefield.
A Final Attempt
Down this valley, the Indians, realizing the battle had been turned in favor of the Patriots, began to yell their cry of retreat: “Oonah, oonah!” Vanishing into the valley as quickly as they had appeared, they would carry terror to the settlements below.
After the Indians left, a detachment of Royal Greens decided to make one last try. They turned their coats inside out to disguise themselves to look like a relief party coming up the valley from Fort Stanwix. One Patriot soldier recognized the face of a Loyalist neighbor, however, and the battle raged once more.
Six hours after the battle began, both sides gradually withdrew. Although the Tryon County militia never made it to Fort Stanwix, the Iroquois losses at the Battle of Oriskany would lead them to withdraw their aid to St. Leger. Without enough artillery or other resources to continue the siege, St. Leger retreated to Canada, causing this prong of the Campaign of 1777 to collapse.
Oriskany Battlefield State Historic Site, Whitestown, NY 13424, USA
Latitude = 43.1766667
Longitude = -75.37